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High tech smallpox on high tech blankets:

What is one of the
planets favourite
source of Protein?

Force multiplier

What happens with a lack of protein ?

depressed Immune system - susseptability to viral transmissions / Bacteial infections / illness

A four-ounce serving of chicken provides 72.0% of the daily value for niacin - deficiency of niacin (as well as other B-complex vitamins) has been directly linked to genetic (DNA) damage.

The message is: Keep buying OUR safe poultry...and don't even consider buying from ethical open farms

Question - If infected birds are culled and the meat is OK to eat...why is it being reported that some meat is being burned in pits? why are farmers not being issued with compensation? Are men in white coats simply stealing Chickens and selling the majority of meat to the large food processing corporations? Are the men in white coats ACTUALLY FROM THE CORPORATIONS?

but that is just the beginning :

Laurence Tiley, Professor of Molecular Virology at Cambridge University: "Once we have regulatory approval, we believe it will only take between four and five years to breed enough chickens to replace the entire world population,"...

"Developing flu-resistant chickens has clear benefits for human health and animal welfare, as we wouldn't have to slaughter chickens around the world. Chickens provide a link between the wild bird population, where avian influenza thrives, and humans, where new pandemic strains can emerge. Removing that bridge will dramatically reduce the risk posed by avian viruses."

how can they replace if they don't slaughter the flock? what about the wild birds? making any sense? No... me neither!

Notice any particular areas missing? Africa? Non EU countries? [Egypt / Kuwait Turkey] , has Avian Flu devastated the poultry industry? or is it the mass culling...?

consider the notion of the 'management of disease'

2. GM modification

tiny little interfacesIF YOU DO NOT COMPLY- THEY WILL SWITCH ON THE DORMENT DISEASE  INSIDE YOU...wars of inner space

There have been many suggestions: stealth viruses that could be introduced covertly into the genomes of a given population, and then triggered later by a signal, designer diseases, and bio-warfare agents in agriculture such as the Fusarium used against drug plantations in Colombia and elsewhere.

The human genome sequence is well on its way to completion. There could be misuse of large scale databases containing information on specific populations, such as the human DNA BioBank planned in Britain, similar to ones in Iceland, Tonga and Sweden. And DNA collections of indigenous peoples have been accumulating in university laboratories under the disreputable Human Genome Diversity Project.

Specific genetic variants of receptors for regulatory and signaling molecules could be targeted. There is also increasing potential for manipulating the immune system, already being done in the course of seemingly innocent research on viruses.

"GM experiments are in some respects worse than biological weapons. For every biological warfare agent, it is possible to know its biological origin, its mode of action, where it is produced and where it is released, providing the BWC Protocol can be agreed. But in the case of accidental creation of deadly pathogens in GM experiments, or contamination with GM microorganisms, none of these parameters is known, and in most cases cannot even be predicted. In the event of disease outbreaks, diagnosis will be delayed, and more people will get ill and die." GM & Bio-weapons in the post-Genomics Era

artificial cells.

Plants created using Terminator technology will produce sterile seeds, creating a monopoly and unnatural control of the seeds. Farmers will not be able to use seeds from such plants for the following season's cultivation. The seeds will rot \in the soil without producing new plants. If this technology is introduced in crops such as soya, wheat, canola and cotton it will force farmers to buy new seeds every year from the same company. - indymedia

Feeding a Hungry World


The major challenge in agriculture today is the production of sufficient food to adequately nourish the world's population.

Human population growth is exponential. Currently over 6 billion people and still increasing. Age structure of Sweden vs. Mexico . 25% of world lives in developed countries, 75% in underdeveloped. 25% of world's population is undernourished.

A. The Green Revolution.

1. Goal was to develop high yielding and disease-resistant varieties of plants. Norman Borlaug promised to provide sufficient food for all.

2. Problems with the Green Revolution

a. Crops are dependent on fertilizers, adequate water supply, mechanized farming (hence fuel). Poor farmers can't afford high-priced seed.

b. Continued population growth has eaten up some of these production gains

B. Crop Diversity.

Of the 300 species of plants cultivated by humans for food, only 3 provide 55% of nutrition. 20 species provide 80%. So, very narrow food base for human population.

1. Monocultures. Result in decreased genetic variability. Plants more prone to attack by pathogens. Examples:

a. Soybean and Fusarium (SDS = Sudden Death Syndrome).

b. Maize {0190} and Bipolaris maydis (Southern corn leaf blight). Inbred male-sterile corn lines were more suceptible to the pathogen. Destroyed at least 15% of the crop in 1970. See p. 188 in text.

c. Other monocultures: wheat, potato, citrus.

2. Difficulty with polycultures?

Hard to do mechanized farming with several crops in one field.

C. Sustainable Agriculture.

Use of perennial vs. annual crops. Examples being developed: Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis), Sorghum bicolor X S. halapense hybrid, etc.

D. Genetic Diversity: Germplasm & Seed Banks. Land races -

traditionally cultivated crop varieties are being replaced by newer, high-yield varieties. This results in loss of genetic diversity. Interest is in preserving this variability (to introduce into modern crops). One way to do this is to put the seeds in cold storage . Example: National Center for Genetic Resource Preservation in Ft. Collins, CO. This unit of the USDA develops strategies to conserve the genetic diversity of plants with current or future importance to US agriculture and landscapes.. The Plant Germplasm Preservation Unit is responsible for more than 10,000 globally distributed species with diverse physiologies and genetic backgrounds.

E. Alternate Crops

1. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa).. Related to the weed called goosefoot, Chenopodium album . The "grain" (not a grass) is very nutritious. Developed as a crop in the Andes of South America by the Quechua and Aymara. Quinoa from WholeHealthMD.com. All About Quinoa. NewCROP, the New Crop Resource Online Program from Purdue University.

2. Amaranth (Amaranthus spp.). Also not a grain but used like it. As much protein (12-17%) as milk! Was a staple (along with maize and beans) in Pre-Colombian era people of the New World. Good book on the subject "Amaranth: Modern Prospects for an Ancient Crop" (National Academy Press 1984).

3. Other South American alternate crops:

Tarwi (Lupinus mutabilis, Fabaceae)

Tamarillo (tree tomato, Cyphomandra betacea, Solanaceae)

Oca (Oxalis tuberosa, Oxalidaceae). See "Andean Tuber Crops: Worldwide Potential" by Calvin Sperling and Steven King

F. Biotechnology.

The use of techniques such as cell and tissue culture and genetic engineering to create plants with new and desirable characteristics. Similar goals as traditional breeding, different techniques.

1. Cell and tissue culture. Small parts of a plant (stem, leaf) can be cultured on a defined medium. The cells grow into callus. {0638} With hormone treatment, can recover complete plants from the callus cells. A method to produce lots of genetically identical individuals. Or can recover and propagate interesting and valuable mutants. For example: Cells in culture exposed to herbicide. The resistant ones survive. Whole plants are grown from these survivors.

2. Transgenic Plants:

Introduction of specific genes directly into crop species using techniques of genetic engineering.{0326} Plants can also undergo transformation, which means moving foreign DNA into a plant (e.g. into a protoplast). Can use bacteria (Agrobacterium) with plasmids {0325} or mechanical methods.

a. Herbicide resistance. Benefit: can spray your field and kill everything except your crop which is resistant. Risks: that gene will move into another species or that the crop will itself become a weed. Moreover, the resistant plants may have a narrow genetic base, making them more susceptible to other pathogens. Glyphosate (RoundUp?) resistance in soybeans (Glycine). Prevents the synthesis of aromatic amino acids.

b. Disease resistance. Many examples:

tomato (Solanum) and mosaic virus
tomato (Solanum) and leaf mold (Cladosporium)
barley (Hordeum) stem rust (Puccinia)
mustards (Brassica) and white rust (Albugo)
sorghum and head smut (Sporisorium)
potato (Solanum) and root cyst nematode (Globodwea)
sugar beet (Beta) and cyst nematode (Heterodera)
sunflower (Helianthus) and rust (Puccinia)

c. Insect resistance. Transgenic maize has a gene from a bacterium (Bacillus thuringiensis) that kills caterpillars of the European cornborer moth that feed on them. Concern has been raised that such plants are harmful to the environment because their pollen can be eaten by beneficial and nontarget insects such as Monarch butterfly caterpillars . The insecticidal compound can also get out of the plant and into the soil. Good discussion of the subject in article by M. Marvier (2001, Ecology of Transgenic Crops, American Scientist 89:160-167).

d. For an excellent discussion of the topic of "GM" (Genetically Modified) foods, see THIS REPORT on the NPR (National Public Radio) website. http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/2001/nov/biotech/011115.biotech.html

Genetic chickens get DNA copyright tag

Biotech firm plans to create strain with extra large breasts for more meat

James Meek, science correspondent - Monday July 31, 2000 The Guardian

A US biotech company plans to create a strain of chicken genetically engineered to have an extra large breast to yield more meat, with a DNA copyright tag inserted among its genes to stop anyone breeding it without permission.

If successful, the firm, AviGenics, based on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens, would be one of the first to enable GM meat to appear on US supermarket shelves, opening up new tensions with Europe over genetic engineering in food.

AviGenics is already one of three US companies racing to turn poultry into drugs factories - adding human genes to chickens to create "transgenic" birds which would then produce human proteins such as insulin in their egg whites. AviGenics claims to have already created transgenic roosters which have successfully passed on to new generations of chicks the human gene for a substance called alpha interferon, used to treat hepatitis and certain cancers. The company hopes to use the same technology to create a new kind of everyday eating chicken. Instead of adding human genes to make birds lay drug-rich eggs, genes - not necessarily human - would be added, or chicken genes removed, to give the birds bigger breast muscles, faster growing rates or greater disease resistance.

To keep proprietorial control over these valuable new animals, AviGenics is working on a novel kind of trademark, a unique sequence of DNA which would be introduced into the chicken's genes. The "trademark" would not only be locked into each of the chicken's millions of cells, but would be handed on to the bird's offspring indefinitely.

Contacted by the Guardian last week, the chief executive of AviGenics, Carl Marhaver, confirmed that his company was working to create genetically engineered and trademarked poultry for the dining table, but did not want to comment further. Referring to recent protests in Minneapolis during a conference on animal genetics, he said he did not want the firm "to become an exhibit in an anti-GM article".

AviGenics does not plan to raise and market GM chickens itself, but to make its new strains available to large, well-established poultry breeders.

The science was developed by Robert Ivarie, professor of genetics at the university and co-founder of AviGenics. He could not be contacted for comment but the promotion on the company's website says: "Poultry is one of our most important meat sources, outranking beef consumption by an increasingly cost and health conscious public.

"With AviGenics-engineered transgenes that control muscle fibre development, proprietary lines of chickens can be created that grow larger breast muscles, enhancing white and, eventually, dark meat yields. "Poultry breeders are concerned about improving the quality of life for their flocks. Genetic modification of the chicken genome will eventually impact disease resistance, improving the quality of life for birds."

Echoing earlier efforts by GM plant firms to keep a grip on their products by developing "terminator genes", AviGenics says it can use DNA trademarks to control the proliferation of its chickens once they are sold on to breeders.

"Unique DNA sequences can be engineered and introduced into the poultry genome to indelibly mark valuable transgenic and breeder lines, effectively acting as genetic encryption devices," it says.

Until now it had been thought that the first GM animals likely to reach the consumer were farmed fish, genetically engineered to grow faster and bigger or to survive in colder waters than their natural cousins. Research into GM fish is particularly advanced in Canada.

Concerns have already been voiced about the dangers of GM fish escaping and mating with their wild counterparts. But proponents of GM chickens could argue that centuries of selective breeding have already produced birds as different from their wild ancestors as a musclebound GM superchicken would be from one of today's standard broilers.

In the short term, AviGenics investment in GM chickens for food seems to depend on its success or failure in producing GM chickens to make drugs.

Mr Marhaver said AviGenics had made great strides in making hens which laid alpha interferon eggs, and was now expanding its flocks to gear up for commercial production of the drug, the annual market for which is worth about a billion pounds in the US alone.

Two other US companies, GeneWorks LLC and TransXenoGen, are also preparing to launch commercially sized flocks of drug egg laying chickens. TransXenoGen plans to seek a listing on London's Alternative Investment Market.

The technology behind genetic engineering of birds is difficult and sceptics point out that the companies working with chickens, citing commercial secrecy, have been coy about publishing their work in scientific journals.

But if chickens can be made to lay the golden eggs of high-value pharmaceuticals, they will be more cost-effective for would-be "pharmers" than other, existing, GM animals being developed to produce drugs in their milk, such as sheep, cows, goats and rabbits.

GM: New Study Shows Unborn Babies Could Be Harmed

Mortality rate for new-born rats six times higher when mother was fed on a diet of modified soya

by Geoffrey Lean

Women who eat GM foods while pregnant risk endangering their unborn babies, startling new research suggests.

The World Trade Organization is expected next month to support a bid by the Bush administration to force European countries to accept GM foods. The study - carried out by a leading scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences - found that more than half of the offspring of rats fed on modified soya died in the first three weeks of life, six times as many as those born to mothers with normal diets. Six times as many were also severely underweight. The research - which is being prepared for publication - is just one of a clutch of recent studies that are reviving fears that GM food damages human health. Italian research has found that modified soya affected the liver and pancreas of mice. Australia had to abandon a decade-long attempt to develop modified peas when an official study found they caused lung damage. And last May this newspaper revealed a secret report by the biotech giant Monsanto, which showed that rats fed a diet rich in GM corn had smaller kidneys and higher blood cell counts, suggesting possible damage to their immune systems, than those that ate a similar conventional one.

The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization held a workshop on the safety of genetically modified foods at its Rome headquarters late last year. The workshop was addressed by scientists whose research had raised concerns about health dangers. But the World Trade Organization is expected next month to support a bid by the Bush administration to force European countries to accept GM foods.

The Russian research threatens to have an explosive effect on already hostile public opinion. Carried out by Dr Irina Ermakova at the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, it is believed to be the first to look at the effects of GM food on the unborn. The scientist added flour from a GM soya bean - produced by Monsanto to be resistant to its pesticide, Roundup - to the food of female rats, starting two weeks before they conceived, continuing through pregnancy, birth and nursing. Others were given non-GM soya and a third group was given no soya at all. She found that 36 per cent of the young of the rats fed the modified soya were severely underweight, compared to 6 per cent of the offspring of the other groups. More alarmingly, a staggering 55.6 per cent of those born to mothers on the GM diet perished within three weeks of birth, compared to 9 per cent of the offspring of those fed normal soya, and 6.8 per cent of the young of those given no soya at all.

"The morphology and biochemical structures of rats are very similar to those of humans, and this makes the results very disturbing" said Dr Ermakova. "They point to a risk for mothers and their babies."

Environmentalists say that - while the results are preliminary - they are potentially so serious that they must be followed up. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has asked the US National Institute of Health to sponsor an immediate, independent follow-up.

The Monsanto soya is widely eaten by Americans. There is little of it, or any GM crop, in British foods though it is imported to feed animals farmed for meat.

Tony Coombes, director of corporate affairs for Monsanto UK, said: "The overwhelming weight of evidence from published, peer-reviewed, independently conducted scientific studies demonstrates that Roundup Ready soy can be safely consumed by rats, as well as all other animal species studied."

What the experiment found

Russian scientists added flour made from a GM soya to the diet of female rats two weeks before mating them, and continued feeding it to them during pregnancy, birth and nursing. Others were give non-GM soya or none at all. Six times as many of the offspring of those fed the modified soya were severely underweight compared to those born to the rats given normal diets. Within three weeks, 55.6 per cent of the young of the mothers given the modified soya died, against 9 per cent of the offspring of those fed the conventional soya. common dreams

Banning GM crops not enough to save wildlife (2003-10-16)

Genetically modified crops are now grown in more than 16 countries. In 2002, farmers around the world planted 60 million hectares of land with dozens of varieties of GM crops. Yet in the UK, the decision to approve or reject the technology could hinge on the results, out on Thursday, of four-year trials involving 280 fields of three GM crops.

Although these farm-scale evaluations are being portrayed as a test of the environmental credentials of GM crops, it is really the weedkillers to which they are resistant that are on trial. The studies looked only at the effect that these herbicides had on "wildlife" in fields, in the form of weeds and insects. But if the aim of the exercise really is to save farmland wildlife, banning any of the GM crops tested is unlikely to make much difference.

Non-GM herbicide-resistant plants

That is because herbicide use in the UK is soaring even before any GM crops are introduced. And in the long term, farmers denied GM crops may instead turn to non-GM crops bred to be resistant to herbicides. That might seem like a good thing to those who oppose GM technology, but like GM crops, the conventionally bred strains allow farmers to splash on the herbicide.

Their impact on farmland wildlife in Europe could be worse than that of the weedkiller-resistant GM crops, because many allow the use of more noxious herbicides than GM strains. And as with GM crops, the herbicide-resistance could spread to other crops and wild relatives.

Desired trait

Despite this, these crops do not have to undergo the same scrutiny as GM crops because they are not genetically engineered. The only hurdle they face in the UK is tests designed to confirm that they are indeed new varieties. And while GM crops can be banned under world trade rules on the grounds that they pose a threat to human health or the environment, the same is not true of conventional herbicide-resistant crops.

"We're as concerned about them as GM crops," says Brian Johnson, an adviser on GM technology to the conservation group English Nature. "The same principles should be applied to all crops, irrespective of their origin." The sequencing of plant genomes is making it much easier for breeders to create non-GM plants with a desired trait, he points out.

None of these crops is yet grown in the UK, unless one counts maize, which is naturally resistant to the herbicide atrazine. But one company has already tried to market them. An application to sell imidazolinone-resistant rapeseed in the UK was turned down in 1998 only because the strain proved low-yielding when trialled (New Scientist print edition, 27 February 1999).

This strain and others like it are already grown in several countries. More are being developed. And companies are likely to redouble their efforts if GM herbicide-resistant crops are banned in Europe. "We're continually looking at GM and non-GM solutions. If the market is there, we'd explore all avenues," a Syngenta spokesman told New Scientist.

"We would be foolish to turn our backs on the possibility that other methods of plant breeding could generate the same results without the transgenic approach," says a Monsanto spokesman. "The regulatory systems effectively ignore all these other methods, and are driven by politics, not science. As things stand, a non-GM plant would bypass the arguments against GM."

Rapid breakdown

But so far Monsanto has been unable to create conventional crops resistant to glyphosate, the herbicide it sells as Roundup. Glyphosate is regarded as one of the most benign herbicides because it breaks down relatively rapidly. That is not true of many of the herbicides to which companies have been able to breed resistant crops.

For instance, almost all Australia's oilseed rape now consists of strains bred to be resistant to broad-spectrum herbicides. The most popular, accounting for 72 per cent of the total grown, is "TT canola", which tolerates the triazine herbicides, including atrazine, an older herbicide suspected of poisoning frogs and polluting rivers.

The original strains were created by researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, who cross-bred commercial canolas with a weedy relative, Brassica rapa, which had evolved resistance to triazines.

Another variety, "Clearfield" rapeseed, is resistant to the imidazolinone family of weedkillers. Scientists made it by chemically mutating rapeseed strains until they produced some strains resistant to the herbicide.

Both strains were approved without the fuss surrounding GM crops, despite arguments that imidazolinones and atrazine are worse for the environment than the herbicides such as glyphosate.

"The two canolas that were classically bred have greater problems with persistence of herbicides and resistance than the GM ones do," says Rick Roush, now of the University of California at Davis, who served for five years with Australia's GM regulation body, the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator. "Atrazine is probably the most problematic of these two herbicides, as it is mobile in water and frequently appears in groundwater and waterways," says Chris Preston of the University of Adelaide. "Atrazine is persistent and in dry years may cause minor damage to subsequent wheat crops."

Rising use

Imidazolinones, meanwhile, can last so long in soil that it is impossible to grow a crop the following season. "Australians opposed to GM crops have totally ignored the fact that most of our canola is already herbicide tolerant, and have also ignored problems with currently used herbicides," says Preston.

In the UK the use of atrazine has increased from 34,000 kilograms a year in 1992 to over 130,000 kg in 2002, mostly because more naturally resistant maize and sweetcorn is being grown. Atrazine was one of the "conventional" treatments against which GM glyphosate-resistant maize was evaluated in the UK's farm-scale trials.

Critics say that glyphosate-resistant GM maize is bound to look good compared with atrazine, and that the comparison is irrelevant because of an impending European ban. But the UK has applied for an exemption from the ban for sweetcorn.

The EU ban does mean that TT Canola is unlikely to be grown in Europe. But Clearfield products are edging closer, with launch this year of imidazolinone-resistant sunflowers in Turkey, and the development of similar varieties for southern and eastern Europe. BASF, the company that makes Clearfield strains, has just launched imidazolinone-resistant wheat in Australia and may develop variants for the European market.

Even without herbicide-resistant crops, GM or otherwise, herbicide use has soared in the UK, with glyphosate use more than quadrupling in a decade (see graph). The biggest rise has been on farms, where farmers receive subsidies to reduce overproduction by temporarily leaving fields fallow, but keep these "set aside" fields free of weeds with glyphosate. Glyphosate use has also soared on cereals such as wheat and barley, to compensate for a side effect of a popular fungicide.

"There's no strategic control over technologies used in the countryside," says Johnson. "We have many well-meaning technologies, but not a means to regulate them." New scientist

First contamination report reveals worldwide illegal spread of genetically engineered crops

By: Greenpeace

The first report into the extent to which genetically engineered organisms have 'leaked' into the environment - released today - reveals a disturbing picture of widespread contamination, illegal planting and negative agricultural side effects.

The report is a summary of incidents uncovered by the on-line Contamination Register (1) set up by Greenpeace and GeneWatch UK. It reveals a catalogue of highly disturbing incidents right across the world, including:

- Pork meat from genetically engineered pigs being sold to consumers
- Ordinary crops being contaminated with GE crops containing pharmaceuticals
- Growing and international distribution of illegal antibiotic resistant Maize seeds
- Planting of outlawed GE crops which have been smuggled into countries
- Mixing of unapproved GE crops in food, including shipments of food aid
- Inadvertent mixing of different GE strains even in high profile scientific field trials

The report reveals 113 such cases worldwide, involving 39 countries - twice as many countries as are officially allowed to grow GM crops since they were first commercialised in 1996. Worryingly, the frequency of these cases is increasing, with 11 countries affected in 2005 alone. Contamination has even been found in countries conducting supposedly ''carefully controlled" high-profile farm-scale evaluations, such as the UK. "This may well only be the tip of the iceberg, as there is no official global or national contamination register so far," said Dr. Sue Mayer of GeneWatch UK, who leads the team of investigators. "Most incidents of contamination are actually kept as confidential business information by companies as well as public authorities."

Greenpeace is calling for a mandatory international register of all such events to be set up, along with the adoption of minimum standards of identification and labelling of all international shipments of GE crops. "Without such biosafety standards ,the global community will have no chance of tracing and recalling dangerous GMOs, should this become necessary." said Benedikt Haerlin of Greenpeace International's Biosafety Protocol delegation.

The publication of the report comes only days before the latest meeting of the 132 countries who have signed the Biosafety Protocol (2), which is to establish standards of safety and information of GE crops in global food and feed trade. At their last meeting an imminent agreement was blocked by only two member states, Brazil and New Zealand. They were backed by the major GE exporting countries USA, Argentina and Canada, who are not members of the Protocol and want to restrict required identification to a meaningless note that a shipment "may contain" GE.

"All of these countries have national legislation to protect themselves from illegal GE imports. Still they want to deny the same rights and level of information to less developed countries, with no national Biosafety-laws and means to enforce them," concluded Haerlin. "Do they really want such unethical double standards and create dumping grounds for unidentified and illegal GE imports? We hope that Brazil, who will be hosting this meeting, will not betray the developing countries and cater to large agro-businesses at the expense of the environment."

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. - raiders newsupdate

see - GM Contamination Report: Executive Summary from GreenPeace [93 Kb PDF]

- GM Contamination Report: Full Report from GreenPeace [470 Kb PDF]

Scientists aim to beat flu with genetically modified chickens

By Mark Henderson, Science Correspondent - The Times of London

THE long-term threat of an avian flu pandemic could be greatly reduced by a project to produce genetically modified chickens that can resist lethal strains of the virus.

British scientists are genetically engineering chickens to protect them against the H5N1 virus that has devastated poultry farms in the Far East, with a view to replacing stocks with birds that are not susceptible to influenza.

The technique should also offer protection against many other strains of flu with the potential to start a human pandemic, such as the H7 subgroup that was responsible for an outbreak in Dutch poultry in 2003.

If chicken populations were to be replaced with transgenic birds that were resistant to flu, it would remove a reservoir of the virus and make it much harder for it to spread to humans and trigger a pandemic.

The team, led by Laurence Tiley, Professor of Molecular Virology at Cambridge University, and Helen Sang, of the Roslin Institute, near Edinburgh, has already shown that chicken cells can be protected against flu by inserting small pieces of genetic material.

The researchers are now ready to begin a similar procedure with eggs and the first experiments are expected within weeks. Any breakthrough, however, will come too late to have an impact on the present outbreak of H5N1.

Even if the technique works, it will be several years before it can be used to stock farms and it also faces important regulatory hurdles and a battle to win over public opinion. If these obstacles are overcome and farmers are willing to adopt GM chickens, the entire world stock could be replaced fairly quickly.

"Once we have regulatory approval, we believe it will only take between four and five years to breed enough chickens to replace the entire world population," Professor Tiley said. "Developing flu-resistant chickens has clear benefits for human health and animal welfare, as we wouldn't have to slaughter chickens around the world. Chickens provide a link between the wild bird population, where avian influenza thrives, and humans, where new pandemic strains can emerge. Removing that bridge will dramatically reduce the risk posed by avian viruses."

The research team is following three parallel approaches. One involves inserting a working copy of a gene that makes an antiviral protein called Mx, which is defective in many chicken breeds, and should improve their ability to fight off H5N1 and other strains.

The second approach is to harness a technique called RNA interference, in which small fragments of the genetic signalling chemical RNA are used to disrupt the workings of the flu virus.

By engineering chicken cells to make small RNA molecules that confuse the flu virus, the scientists hope to confer resistance to a wide variety of strains. The third strategy is similar to the second, but involves using RNA molecules as decoys, which trick the flu virus into copying them rather than itself. All three could potentially be incorporated in the same GM chickens. - timesonline.co.uk

US, African scientists seek biotech answer to hunger

By Carey Gillam Mon Mar 27, 3:46 PM ET KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) -

As he pores over plant tissue and petri dishes in a biotech seed lab in Johnston, Iowa, Luke Mehlo is half a world away from his home in South Africa.

But though the corn fields of Iowa bear little resemblance to the arid plains of Africa, the research center where Mehlo toils has become home to a unique joint venture that is merging African agricultural interests with U.S. money and technology.

The goal is to turn sorghum -- a common U.S. row crop used in animal feed, cereals and industrial products -- into a plant that can not only weather devastating drought but also yield a rich blend of vitamins and minerals. Researchers believe such a combination could help combat the hunger and malnutrition ravaging parts of Africa.

"A lot of people have died on the African continent, quite unnecessarily," said Mehlo, a molecular biotechnologist who came to Iowa from South Africa in October. "We seek to have a crop that will enable us to survive during disasters and food shortages."


Mehlo is one of a team of African scientists who will be working in Iowa over the next three years, tinkering with the genes of sorghum seeds. An estimated 300 million people in arid regions of Africa rely on sorghum as a food source along with other crops. But while conventional sorghum is already known to do well in drought conditions, it lacks certain key nutrients.

By taking genes from other crops as well as manipulating genes within the sorghum plant itself, scientists believe they can remake sorghum into a more easily digestible crop richer in vitamins A and E, iron, zinc and amino acids and protein.

Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a subsidiary of Dupont, is a key U.S. partner and the sole commercial player in the endeavor. Pioneer has donated $4.8 million in gene technology, and is lending manpower and facilities for visiting African scientists at its Johnston headquarters.

"Africa is a place where biotechnology is necessary," said Dean Oestreich, President of Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. "It would be a big step to take and make a food crop more nutritious for people in Africa."

The patented technology donated by Pioneer has already shown feasibility in corn seeds, making successful genetic changes in sorghum likely as well, according to Paul Anderson, a Pioneer grain manager and a member of the oversight committee for the "African Biofortified Sorghum" project.

Still, it is expected to take eight years and a second round of funding before a specialized seed is ready for market.

Pioneer will have no rights to revenues from the biotech sorghum once it is developed and commercialized, said Anderson. But the company, already locked into tight competition in the commercial seeds market, hopes that success with biotech sorghum might help open doors for other biotech crops in countries currently skeptical of genetically altered crops.


Chief funding for the project comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the National Institutes of Health. The foundation last summer awarded a $16.9 million grant for the project, making it the largest of four grants handed out by the foundation for the improvement of food through technology.

"Sorghum is a huge staple throughout the world, particularly in Africa where people suffer from some of the worst conditions," said Carol Dahl, director of the foundation's global health technologies group.

Indeed, millions of people in Africa are currently suffering starvation and malnutrition as extended drought and baking heat strip them of food and water.

Along with the sorghum project, the Gates group is funding projects aimed at creating more nutritious bananas, cassava and rice as part of a total of $450 million in grants for improved nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, Dahl said.

Biotech sorghum and other crops are not expected to eradicate the devastation caused by drought, but they could partly ease the pain, researchers believe.

"We have to wait... until we have a complete story," said Mehlo. "But we are already ahead of schedule and we have materials that are very very promising. There is so much light at the end of the tunnel." - yahoo.com

GM technology fails local potatoes

The Daily Nation, Kenya, Online, Thursday January 29, 2004 - gmwatch.org

By [award winner] Gatonye Gathura

Trials to develop a virus resistance sweet potato through biotechnology have failed. US biotechnology, imported three years ago, has failed to improve Kenya's sweet potato. This has confirmed critic's fears that bio-engineered techniques tried elsewhere may not be replicated in Africa with similar results.

The modified potato was launched in Kenya, in 2001 by US special envoy, Dr Andrew Young, who had flown into the country for the occasion. Investigations, on the transgenic crop, by KARI's Biotechnology Centre, say the technology has failed to produce a virus resistant strain.

"There is no demonstrated advantage arising from genetic transformation using the initial gene construct," says a report by researchers, Dr Francis Nang'ayo, and Dr Ben Odhiambo. The transgenic potato was imported from Monsanto in the US to Kenya for tests.

The initial genetic engineering work was done at the Monsanto laboratories, using virus-resistant technologies. In a nine-year study, Monsanto had developed a coat protein responsible for virus resistance, and donated it to Kari, royalty free, to use in its sweet potato improvement programme.

"The transgenic material did not quite withstand virus challenge in the field," says the report, doubting whether the gene expression was adequate or it failed to address the diversity of virus in this region or just that the gene construct was inappropriate. Actually, the report indicates that during the trials non-transgenic crops used as control yielded much more tuber compared to the trangenics. "All lines tested were susceptible to viral attacks."

The Kari results corresponded with an earlier study released by the Third World Network Africa. The study, titled "Genetically Modified Crops and Sustainable Poverty Alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Assessment of Current Evidence", by Aaron deGrassi, of the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK, had warned that the GM sweet potato introduced in Kenya did not address the crop's major problem - weevils. The study offered new evidence against claims of the miracle potential of genetically modified crops for dealing with famine and poverty in Africa. After examining the impact of three genetically modified crops, sweet potato, maize and Bt cotton, on poverty alleviation in Africa it concluded that biotechnology does not address the real causes of poverty and hunger in Africa. Now Kari's research on sweet potatoes has reverted to working with improved gene constructs based on Kenyan strain of virus. This questions the suitability of wholesale importation of foreign technologies. It was hoped that the technology would boast one of the country's most important tubers with the widest regional distribution. It seems much more needs to be done.

Dr Young while launching the technology had said, "I don't believe that we live in this world for our crops to be destroyed. We have been given knowledge for the earth to make sense."

He had then described the continent as being, on the verge of a tremendous revolution. "With biotechnology, we are going to make a green revolution in Africa."

The sweet potato project had been approved by the Kenya Biosafety Council and mock-trials initiated in Kakamega, Kisii, Muguga, Mtwapa and Embu. But the Kari researchers say all is not lost because the experiment proves that the country has the capacity to handle transgenics in the field.

"It proved that KARI and Kenya by extension had the capacity to try the suitability of sophisticated biotechnologies," says Dr Odhiambo. Unlike the more conventional Irish potato, the tuber is not only popular among rural communities in Kenya, but also lasts much longer after traditional processing. This makes the root tuber a more ideal crop for storage for dry seasons. The average harvest of the crop in Kenya, however, has remained low due to a number of factors, including attacks by pests and the sweet potato virus disease. The yield losses resulting from the viral diseases, according to KARI, can be as high as 80 per cent. Kenya's average sweet potato yield stands at six metric tons per hectare less than half the world's average 14 metric tons per hectare.

Gene modification is a relatively new technique in Kenya. Other less high-tech biotech processes such as tissue culture have been widely commercialized in crops like bananas, macadamia nuts and strawberries. The transgenic sweet potato is not the only food crop improvement projects conducted between KARI and Monsanto. Other projects include insect-resistant cotton, and maize resistant to striga - a parasitic weed responsible for destroying up to half of yields in western and coastal parts of Kenya. KARI is the main institute of agricultural research and technology transfer, in charge of providing such appropriate technology aimed at boosting agricultural productivity and livestock production.

Press ReleaseSource: Burrill & Company

A Changing Prescription for Biotechnology
Saturday April 8, 6:00 am ET
G. Steven Burrill Presents His Annual State of the Biotechnology Industry and Predictions for the Future at BIO 2006 in Chicago - Monday, April 10, 2006 at 12:30 - 2.00 p.m. in McCormick Place, South Building, Vista Ballroom

CHICAGO, April 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Twenty years ago the first annual analysis on the biotechnology industry -- Biotech 86: At the Crossroads -- described an industry that was just 10 years into its development and comprised of around 700 companies (150 public) concentrated in the San Francisco and Boston areas. Fast forward to the present and the biotechnology industry's leading expert and visionary G. Steven Burrill's latest 20th anniversary book on the industry -- Biotech 2006 -- describes a truly global industry that is over 5000 companies strong.

In his State-of-the-Union speech at BIO 2006, Mr. Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Company, a San Francisco based global leader in life sciences with principal activities in Venture Capital, Merchant Banking and Media, will reflect on how the industry has developed over this period. He will also describe the key drivers that are impacting the industry today.

"The business models that have successfully brought biotech to its current level of maturity are now being challenged as we move to a more personalized, predictable and preventative approach to medicine (the three "P's"), that will revolutionalize the healthcare system as we know it," explained Burrill. "The technologies and discoveries embodied in the three Ps can come none too soon because we are already witnessing the winds of change rustling through the system. It is a 'changing prescription' for biotechs with tougher regulatory barriers and increased drug safety concerns, an aging population with chronic healthcare costs spinning out of control, medicare reimbursement issues, the specter of follow-on biologics and biogenerics and worldwide competition for talent, technology and financial resources in a world in which disease knows no borders.

"With biotech developing and introducing targeted therapies and molecular diagnostics, it is not surprising that payers, policymakers, the pharmaceutical industry and patients are counting on biotech to deliver on its promise of predictable and preventative medicine that meets the escalating health problems of an aging population, helps control burgeoning healthcare costs and counters the threat of bioterrorism and pandemics. It's a changed world, and a changing environment and the successful companies of the future will be those that marry both molecular diagnostics with targeted drugs and deliver effective personalized therapies," noted Burrill.

During his presentation, Mr. Burrill will also reflect on the key events that have occurred during the 10 months that have elapsed since BIO 2005 and present insightful comments on the performance of the biotechnology industry. Building on this data, he will present his predictions for the rest of the year and his visions for the future. The following is a sneak preview:

The end of biotech's "boom and bust" cycles

Biotech is on a roll and has been for almost three years... evolving into a robust and stable industry leaving its well documented "boom and bust" cycles behind. Global revenues have risen from over $22 billion in 2000 to over $80 billion in 2005. Of the over $350 billion that has been invested in the biotech sector in the past two decades almost half -- $160 billion -- was invested between 2000 and 2005.

     ($ billion)
                    2000     2001    2002     2003      2004    2005*   change
     /Revenue      $31.9    $39.0   $42.7    $47.4     $59.5   $71.5     20%
     Expense       $10.1    $12.3   $13.5    $14.3     $16.8   $18.5     10%
    Net Income
     (loss)         (4.1)    (4.7)  (11.6)    (4.1)     (4.4)   (2.1)    52%
     & Equiva-
       lents(2)     24.6     45.3    41.9     41.6      45.5    47.7      5%
     ization         441      382     224      344       400     490     22%
    Number of
     US Public
     Companies       379      356     329      315       356     363      2%

    (1) Includes ADRs
    (2) Includes marketable securities
    (*) Burrill & Company estimates

    Other facts on the US Biotech Industry:

    -- The industry's market cap closed the year at an all time high of
       $488 billion surpassing the previous record of $475 billion reached in
       the summer of 2000. The Burrill Biotech Select Index widely
       outperformed the NASDAQ and Dow Jones Industrial on a year-to-date
       basis (up 20% versus 4% for NASDAQ and 0.4% for the Dow).
    -- In terms of financings and partnering, a record $34 billion was raised
       by US companies since BIO 2005 in Philadelphia last June.
    -- In the capital markets for 2005, notwithstanding what was a very
       challenging year economically and a very tough equity market,
       $17.3 billion was invested in the biotech sector in 2005... with all
       forms of funding finding takers. Biotech's success in the capital
       markets was led by the large cap companies with robust product
       pipelines and diversity.
    -- The bigger story for the industry -- and one that unfolded during the
       year was the amount that the industry generated through partnering. The
       $17 billion raised was an all time record in biotech's 30+-year history
       giving a clear indication that M&A, along with partnering, had become a
       very attractive option for biotech companies to help drive their
       product development programs and ultimately increase shareholder value.
    -- Since the current IPO window "re-opened" in 2003, the average pre-IPO
       valuations (2003-2005) have declined around $70 million to
       $154 million. In the same period, average private acquisition values
       have increased nearly $100 million to $266 million -- an approximately
       $100 million value gap in favor of M&A's... a trend that we will see
       continuing in 2006.

In other biotech sectors a major milestone in agricultural biotech was reached in May 2005 when the one billionth acre of biotech crops was sown, capping a decade of plantings in 18 countries around the globe. More than 90% of the eight million farmers growing biotech crops are located in developing nations. In addition to record acceptance by farmers, scientists continued to increase their understanding and knowledge of plants and animals through genome sequencing projects. In 2005, the rice genome was mapped, and projects to sequence soybean, corn, and sheep genomes were also announced.

Industrial biotech "came of age" in 2005... attracting a great deal of attention in the wake of soaring oil and chemical prices. In August, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act, which contains almost $1 billion in funding authorizations for bioenergy projects and research and development.

The globalization of biotechnology continued with China and India ("Chindia") setting the pace. Due to high drug discovery and development costs, pharmaceutical/biotech companies are looking for innovative models for drug development, and China and India are becoming major players of this new paradigm.

What happened since BIO 2005?

Biotech has been on a roll, starting in 2004 and the trend has continued to today.

    Pharma vs. Biotech Industry Market Cap ($B)

                    BIO'04     BIO '05          BIO'06       % change
    Company        5/31/04     5/31/05         3/31/06    BIO '05 - BIO '06

    Pfizer           272         207             183           -11.6%
    Merck            105          71              77           + 8.4%

    Pfizer/Merck     377         278             260            -6.5%

    US biotech
     market cap      373         401             498          +24.2%
    Industry         1.0x        1.4x            1.9x

    US Biotechnology Industry Fundraising ($ in Millions)

                                                                  % Change
                    BIO 03 -       BIO 04-         BIO 05 -       BIO '05 -
                    BIO 04         BIO 05          BIO 06         BIO '06

     IPO            $1,541           $803            $757         -5.7%
     Follow-on      $4,408         $3,140          $4,076         29.8%
     PIPEs          $2,951         $1,631          $2,433         49.2%
     Debt           $7,270         $7,393          $8,176         10.6%

     VC             $3,584         $3,133          $2,534        -19.1%
     Other            $204           $529            $815         54.1%

     Financings    $19,958        $16,639         $18,791         12.9%

    Partnering      $9,739        $12,095         $17,460         44.3%

       Total       $29,697        $28,895         $36,251         25.4%

    IPO Window

Seventeen companies raised $819 million in the US in 2005. Looking at the performance of the biotech companies that completed IPO's since the "opening" of this window in 2003, the story is one of continuing improvement with 55% trading above their issue price at the end of Q1 2006.

                 # of IPOs     Amount     Ups/Downs     Average Performance
                               Raised                        since IPO

    2003            7           $456M        5/2              -5.0%
    2004           29*        $1,739M       14/14             33.1%
    2005           17           $819M        9/8              21.1%
    Q1 2006         6           $303M        4/2              22.0%

     Total         59         $3,317M       32/26             17.5%

     * Eyetech acquired

    What's 2006 looking like?
    -- Biotechnology will continue to fuel a major transformation in
       healthcare -- one that emphasizes earlier disease detection, more
       targeted treatments, and adjunctive support through enhanced nutrition.
    -- Biotech stocks in 2006 will continue to out perform NASDAQ, DJIA and
       the pharma indices although biotech's performance will be out of its
       direct control and in the hands of the macro-markets (impacted by the
       price of oil, inflation, the war in Iraq, rising interest rates, and
       corporate earnings in the non-biotech sector). This may retard
       biotech's growth somewhat because overall the world economy will not be
       as strong as it should be.
    -- We will see a reasonably robust public equity IPO market with 30+ IPOs
       completed in the US and an even larger number internationally.
    -- The biotech industry will generate over $35 billion in financings in
       2006, with approximately $25 billion from the public equity markets and
       more than $10 billion in partnering.
    -- More pricing pressure. Payers will become more demanding of drug
       companies to justify the cost of a drug with true clinical utility. The
       CMS Medicare part D will continue to be a big agenda item for
       Washington and the industry with heated debate around a government
       price controls system on the drug industry as a whole.
    -- CMS will take an increasingly active role in evaluating which drugs it
       will pay for. And with CMS becoming a major customer of drugs with an
       estimated 40% of the market in 2008, a company will no longer be
       guaranteed that it will meet with a receptive reimbursement
    -- The trend towards personalized medicine will accelerate. The pressure
       from payers will result in more product bundling, more personalized
       medicine, less "blockbusterology" (fewer "one size fits all" drugs).
       The FDA's Critical Path Initiative will drive progress in personalized
       medicine/theranostics. In 2006, the big stories at FDA will continue to
       center on the need to make reforms that strengthen drug safety while
       goosing innovation -- goals agency officials insist are complementary.
    -- Also in 2006, negotiations will begin to heat up on reauthorization of
       the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), which expires in September
       2006. The bill to renew the act could serve as a congressional vehicle
       for drug safety reforms, follow-on biologics measures, and almost
       anything else related to drug development, approval, and post-market
    -- The trend towards M&A's will continue with substantially more deals
       than 2005, especially among the larger companies. Big pharma's appetite
       for biotech deals, already fueled by a need to supplement thin
       pipelines and replace products losing their patent protection, will
       continue to grow. The partnering environment for biotechs will
       therefore continue to be "hot."
    -- We will see more and larger partnering deals with an emphasis towards
       discovery stage deals.
    -- Drug safety issues will be high on the agenda and approvals will be
       tougher to obtain.
    -- Pandemic diseases (avian flu) will get increased attention along with a
       focus on therapeutics for the lesser developed world.
    -- Generic medicines will be key part of lower Medicare prescription drug
       benefit costs. In addition, biogenerics/biosimilars will become a hot
       topic as key patents start to expire on some of the early recombinant
       protein therapeutics.
    -- At the same time, healthcare spending on aging populations will become
       a more urgent priority for governments and consumers alike.
    -- Diet and nutrition will continue to form the backbone of the pharmacy
       of disease prevention. Traditional over-the-counter and prescription
       medicines blended with alternative strategies for nutrition and
       prevention will deliver a changing prescription for health.
    -- In agriculture, more biotech crops will be sown as more countries
       become involved in biotech crop plantings around the globe.
    -- Interest in biofuels will continue to be driven by the President's 22%
       increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy,
       including funding for research in cellulosic ethanol.
    -- - Technology will be driven by:
          - Pandemic "preparedness"
          - The obesity "epidemic" that will attract more biotech and pharma
            players to this huge market opportunity
          - Proteomics and systems biology
          - Stem cell discoveries and progress on the political front
          - Memory... and our need to maintain it!

The year 2006 will be a good one for biotech, but in a world with a changing prescription for the industry.

Public relations drive:

Companies tout benefits of biotech products

By Mark Weinraub Tue Apr 11, CHICAGO (Reuters) -

U.S. food and seed companies plan to educate farmers and other customers about the benefits of genetically modified crops and animals, as part of their strategy to win marketplace acceptance for new products developed through biotechnology.

Many countries have banned food that is developed with biotechnology amid worries of possible dangers for human health and the environment. This has limited the market for the disease-resistant crops.

Demonstrating that the products have health or economic benefits is the best way to show off the results of biotechnology enhanced foods, experts said at a biotechnology industry conference here. They listed benefits including disease resistant crops and new developments in biotechnology that allow for the production of oils with better fat content.

"As people begin to see benefits they can identify with personally, they become more and more accepting," said David Dzisiak, commercial leader for global oils at Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical Co .

Dzisiak said selling genetically modified crops was like introducing any other type of technology to consumers.

Although genetically modified crops have been on the market for 10 years, there is still a lot of confusion in the U.S. marketplace about them, according to a study by the International Food Information Council.

Some U.S. consumers are aware of biotechnology being used to develop products that end up in their supermarkets but most do not know which products specifically use the technology. The U.S. government does not require labeling of biotech products.

The industry's initial plans for an educational effort are narrowly focused on farmers and other direct users of the technology. These are the customers the companies must win over before the new genetically engineered crops can get to consumers at the grocery shelves.

Any vocal resistance to genetically modified crops could postpone adoption of the products in the country.

Despite success with genetically modified corn and soybeans, producers will be wary of planting new biotech crops unless doing so can improve their bottom line.

"You've got to solve a problem, you've got to increase production, you've got to decrease costs enough to deliver a truly unique result," said Nancy Hood of Integer Group, which helps farming groups develop marketing strategies. "If you don't have that, you are going to face an uphill battle all the way across the farm."

Education does not always lead to acceptance of new products. In Europe, where awareness of genetic engineering is greater than in the United States, resistance to biotechnology is stronger, said Mickey Gjerris, assistant professor at the Danish Center for Bioethics and Risk Assessment.

"There's no evidence that the more people know, the more they love biotechnology," Gjerris said.

Gjerris said proponents of genetically modified products need to start a dialogue with consumers, listening to their concerns instead of just providing them with research and claims of benefits.

After a fair and open dialogue, most consumers, even those who had expressed reservations about the products, will accept the results of the debate and the regulations surrounding the issue, Gjerris added. - yahoo.com

Biotech group sees GMO crop use still spreading

By Dolly Aglay MANILA, April 25 (Reuters) -

The global area planted to genetically modified crops, nearly four times the size of the United Kingdom last year, is likely to show double-digit growth again this year, the coordinator of a group promoting biotechnology in developing countries said on Tuesday.

Randy Hautea, global coordinator of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), said the area planted to GMO crops rose 11 percent last year to 90 million hectares, despite fears raised by environmental groups.

Greenpeace, which opposes the planting of GMO crops for fear of its impact on consumer health and the environment, said it doubted the ISAAA report on the extent of the area planted with GMO. "For 10 years, we have seen double-digit growth yearly," Hautea, whose group tracks planting and development of GMO crops, told reporters on the sidelines of a sugar forum in Manila. "That trend will continue," he added, without further explanation.

Hautea, a Filipino, said areas planted with GMO soybeans are also increasing in Brazil while areas planted with GMO cotton are widening in India.

Areas planted to GMO cotton in India last year nearly tripled to about 1.4 million hectares from half a million hectares in 2004, he said.

The highest biotech expansion last year in terms of actual area was Brazil with 9.4 million hectares planted with GMO soybeans, nearly double the 5 million hectares in 2004, Hautea said.

Pakistan is expected to start commercial planting of GMO cotton this year, he said.

The global value of biotech crops was projected to rise to $5.5 billion in 2006 from $5.25 billion in 2005, Hautea said. GMO crops -- designed to be pest-resistant, give better yields or offer higher nutritional value -- accounted for 60 percent of global soybean area last year, 28 percent of cotton, 18 percent of canola and 14 percent of corn, he added.

But Greenpeace expressed doubts on the accuracy and methodology of the ISAAA estimates. "We are asking governments to follow the precautionary principles in terms of allowing the commercialisation of GMOs," Daniel Ocampo, genetic engineering campaigner of Greenpeace in Southeast Asia, said.

There were 21 countries that planted GMO crops last year, with the United States accounting for more than half of the total at 49.8 million hectares, Hautea said. Argentina accounted for 17.1 million hectares, Canada for 5.8 million and China for 3.3 million.

from farm to factory to Laboratory

Genome Technology Heads to the Table

By PAUL ELIAS, AP Biotechnology Writer Sun Apr 30 2006 - AMES, Iowa - News Yahoo

Max Rothschild has been trying to "build" a better pig for almost 30 years, since he took a job cleaning up after the hogs at his alma mater, the University of California, Davis. He's now a renowned swine scientist who has traded the dirty pigpens of his undergraduate days for a glistening Iowa State University laboratory dedicated to producing tastier chops, safer pork and healthier pigs. Rothschild is part of a national collaboration that earlier this year received a $10 million federal grant to map pig genes. Researchers from the University of Illinois-led project promise it will help take the guesswork out of breeding.

The idea is to find and exploit the genetic variations of the best pigs, which Rothschild and like-minded agricultural researchers say will radically change the industry.

Already, chicken and cow genomes - complete genetic maps of each species - have been published, and race horse breeders have applied to the National Human Genome Research Institute for a grant to run an equine DNA sequence. Most animal genetic sequences are now done with the support of the institute because of its expertise, and comparing animal genomes to the human genome helps with medical research.

Mapping the roughly 30,000 genes in each animal requires extracting the genetic material from its blood. The DNA is then replicated many times over and run through a computer known as a sequencer, which spits out the swine's genetic makeup in a code of four letters - T, A, C, G - representing the nucleotides that comprise DNA.

Even before the pig genome is completed sometime next year, top commercial producers such as Pig Improvement Co. and Monsanto Inc. are using preliminary results from genetic screens to see if they can determine which pigs are the tastiest before they are butchered. The screens will also be used to manage herds and make breeding decisions, among other improvements.

"They can now look inside the pig," Rothschild said. "They are both building better pigs with this technology."

Rothschild previously discovered a gene variation that causes sows to produce more piglets per litter than average. He developed a test for the variation that is now widely used throughout the industry, and he said it could be useful in the Third World.

"The developing world wants to eat meat," Rothschild said. "And there's only one way to produce it - grow more animals."

Rothschild also envisions a day when every farm animal is bar-coded, which would enable producers to better track their herds and more quickly trace the source of outbreaks like mad cow disease. The bar codes also would let the breeders pamper the top pigs with better feed and sort them from the run-of-the-mill animals.

Poultry producers and cattle ranchers are also developing genetic screens that will show them which animals are more prone to carry the best meat.

Minnesota-based Cargill Inc., which supplies about 20 percent of the nation's beef, is working on a genetic screen to sort its cattle by the quality of their meat, something that can't be done now until the animal is slaughtered. Cargill is testing the screen on 30,000 of its cattle. If it works, the company can reserve the best feed and care for its prime beef producers, or ensure that the best animals mate with each other.

Animal breeding is still largely an art, rather than a science, despite centuries of practice.

"There is a lot of guesswork and shots in the dark when we are making breeding decisions," Cargill's Ben Brophy told executives and scientists at a biotechnology convention in Chicago on April 11. "Trends are definitely moving from a low-technology production to high-technology production."

Developing tests that eliminate the vagaries of animal husbandry could increase the value of high-end cattle by $300, an increase of more than 30 percent. That's a significant premium in the low-margin cattle industry.

"That difference is substantial," Brophy said.

Using genetics to make scientific breeding decisions had remained an elusive goal until after President Clinton unveiled the Human Genome Project in a Rose Garden ceremony in 2000. The announcement was the culmination of a $3 billion, 10-year project to identify every human gene, and expectations were high that the effort would soon produce medical breakthroughs. While the project has indeed yielded genetic clues to diseases and powerful diagnostic tests, most of the medical discoveries have been more incremental than dramatic.

Now, more powerful computers are being used to produce the genetic codes of all sorts of creatures in record time - and at lower costs. The chicken genome cost about $50 million and swine scientists said they can sequence the pig in a year for about $20 million.

"We are using the power of human genome tools to bring better food to the table," said Dennis Fantin, a vice president at the biotechnology company MetaMorphix Inc., which is developing genetic tests for chicken, beef, pig and even fish farmers. "We are using tools that weren't available 10 years ago."

New fears over GM crops

by Lynne Nolan - May 1st 2006 - ITP Business

Papers obtained by two environmental groups under freedom of information laws show a double standard on the safety of GMOs.

Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace have accused the European Commission of telling the public that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe, whilst admitting to the WTO that it does have some concerns over GM produce.

The report, obtained using freedom of information rules, warns there are large areas of scientific uncertainty, and raises fears about weeds and insects becoming resistant to the toxins in GM crops.

Debate about the need for GM foods has raged since the mid 1990s, as genetic modification allows scientists to take genes from one organism and put them into another, changing the way it develops.

Despite recent concerns from EU ministers about the merits of these specially designed foods - and the effect it has on humans - they are becoming widespread across the rest of the world, including the UAE.

"There is a need for more information to be made available to the public about GM foods," said Munqeth Mehyar, chairperson and Jordanian director, Friends of the Earth Middle East.

However, hotels in the region are keen to add that they do not use GM produce.

"Our staff do not use genetically modified foods. In my opinion, the side effects of using this type of food will absolutely show on the next generation," said Marius Lichtwald, chef de cuisine, Brauhaus, Jumeira Rotana Hotel.

"We believe in providing guests with the best and freshest food, and GM food is definitely not as healthy as natural and organic foods," added chef Marius.

But in the Middle East, there is very little regulatory activity on the issue of GMOs, with few countries from the region active in the only international agreement related to GMOs - the UN Biosafety Protocol.

"To our knowledge, only Egypt is party to the protocol across the Middle East and Levant region," said Nnimmo Bassey, international coordinator, Friends of the Earth GM campaign.

"The Middle East has become well advanced in the modern world, but people should go back and look at what their ancestors did in terms of food production. People should be urged not to look at getting a quick buck, but putting their health first before using any of these GM organisms," Mehyar commented.

Mehyar also added that the Jordanian division of the environmental group is in complete support of the moves taken by Friends of the Earth Europe. The group has also spearheaded a strong campaign against genetically modified products in Jordan, holding workshops to convince people there are alternatives.

"It is now well known that GM products, particularly rice and wheat, cause vitamin deficiency. As such, we are totally against GM organisms and would advise the use of organic and naturally grown organisms instead," added Mehyar.

Mass Deaths in Sheep Grazing on Bt Cotton

At least 1 800 sheep reported dead from severe toxicity after grazing on Bt cotton fields in just four villages in Andhra Pradesh India

ISIS Press Release 03/05/06 Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

The Bt trail of dead sheep, ill workers and dead villagers over three years

At least 1 820 sheep were reported dead after grazing on post-harvest Bt cotton crops; the symptoms and post-mortem findings strongly suggest they died from severe toxicity. This was uncovered in a preliminary investigation conducted by civil society organisations in just four villages in the Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh in India. The actual problem is likely to be much greater.

This latest report confirms the findings of an earlier fact-finding investigation, also conducted by civil society organisations, on illnesses in cotton farm workers and handlers caused by Bt cotton in another cotton-growing state, Madhya Pradesh, in India ("More illnesses linked to Bt crops", this series).

And not so long ago, we reported similar illnesses and deaths among villagers in the Philippines linked to exposure to Bt maize since 2003 ("GM ban long overdue, dozens ill and five deaths in the Philippines", SiS 29).

It cannot be mere coincidence that similar Bt toxins from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis incorporated in the genetically modified crops are involved in all these cases; but the regulators have done nothing. Things are so bad that the European Commission levelled an accusation of bias towards the biotech industry against its own food safety regulatory body ("European Food Safety Authority criticised of GMO bias", this series).

Grazing lands decline as commercial crops increase Grazing lands in Warangal district have declined steeply as commercial crop cultivation expanded in recent years, and it has become customary for sheep and goats to be allowed to graze on crop residues after harvest.

This year, there have been several media reports of sharp increases in the deaths of sheep and goats after grazing in Bt cotton fields. There were similar reports in 2005, when complaints were lodged with the Joint Director of Agriculture by a few NGOs, but no action has resulted.

Between February and March 2006, the shepherds of Warangal district again reported high mortality in their flocks after grazing in harvested Bt cotton fields. Some shepherds reported to the animal husbandry department and requested confirmation on whether the deaths were due to grazing on Bt cotton.

Still getting no response, a fact-finding team of five members was constituted by the Andhra Pradesh Shepherds Union: two members from Anthra (NGO working on livestock issues), veterinary scientist Dr. Ramesh and a field researcher Mr. Apparoa; Mr. Jamalaiah, Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Shepherds Union; and two scientists from the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture working on Bt cotton issues, Mr. S. Ramprasa and Mr. G. Rajashekar.

The team travelled through three mandals in Warangal district on 22 April 2006 and met with shepherds and farmers. The villages visited were Ippagudem in Ghanapur mandal, Valeru and Unkkucherla in Dharmasagaram mandal, and Maadpalli in Hasanparthi mandal.

Twenty-five percent of sheep dead within five to seven days

The Ippagudem village in Ghanapur mandal has 100 households belonging to the shepherd community. Forty shepherds and ten farmers attended the group meeting when the team visited. They said the deaths began after their sheep grazed on Bt cotton leaves or bolls. This year was the first time some of the shepherds and farmers cultivated Bt cotton hybrids, believing in the propaganda that they can get more yield and profit. They started grazing from the end of January to March. The deaths began within a week of continuous grazing on the Bt cotton crop residues. Mr. J. Parmesh, one of the shepherds got diarrhoea after consuming the affected sheep's meat.

The shepherds said that the sheep became "dull/depressed" after 2-3 days of grazing, started coughing with nasal discharge and developed red lesions in the mouth, became bloated and suffered blackish diarrhoea, and sometimes passed red urine. Death occurred within 5-7 days of grazing. Sheep from young lambs to adults of 1.5-2 years were affected.

The shepherds took their sheep to the government veterinary hospital in Warangal for post-mortem, some shepherds also performed their own post-mortem, as is often the practice of shepherds across Andhra Pradesh. They found black patches in the intestine and enlarged bile duct and black patches on the liver. The shepherds said that the Assistant Director of Animal Health Centre in Warangal told them these deaths appeared to be due to grazing on Bt cotton fields, as she has earlier seen such cases. She prescribed some medicines for the sick sheep, but very few sheep responded, and most died.

Of the 2 601 sheep that belonged to 42 shepherds, 651 sheep died, giving an average mortality rate of 25 percent.

A shepherd in another village, Akkapalli reported that he had cultivated Bt cotton the previous year and allowed his sheep to graze, which resulted in deaths. This year, while he still cultivated Bt cotton, he did not allow them to graze on it, and his sheep did not die.

On the way to Dharmasagaram mandal, the team spoke to a shepherd Shri Kochla Malliah, who has 100 sheep, but 5 died after grazing on Bt cotton crop residues. He reported that sheep had also died in adjoining villages Molakagudam, Kunipatti and Kondaparthi

More deaths and identical symptoms in other villages

Twenty-nine shepherds participated in the meeting in Valeru village in Dharmasagaram mandel. Sheep deaths occurred during February - March 2006. The symptoms described were identical to those reported in the previous village.

Of 2168 sheep owned by the 29 shepherds, 549 sheep died, again giving an average mortality rate of about 25 percent.

In the remaining villages, it was not possible to have a group meeting with the shepherds. But the team was informed that the sheep population is nearly 1 000 in Unkkucherla village, Dharmasagaram mandal, and 150 adult sheep and 70 lambs died within 4 days of grazing on Bt cotton fields between February and March 2006. In Maadipalli village Asanparthi mandal, there are 20 households rearing some 3 000 sheep, and nearly 400 died due to grazing on Bt-cotton fields from the second week of February through to March.

They took their animals to the Warangal veterinary hospital for post-mortem. The Assistant Director at the Animal Health Centre who conducted the post-mortem advised them to stop grazing their sheep on the Bt cotton fields, saying the deaths could be due to the Bt cotton, and prescribed some medicines for the affected sheep.

The team met with the Assistant Director who conducted the post-mortems. When questioned, she replied that while it appeared that the deaths occurred after grazing on Bt cotton fields, and could be due to the effects of Bt toxin, it was not possible to arrive at a definitive conclusion, as farmers also spray different types of insecticides and pesticides on their crops, and this factor confounds the observations. She also said there were no kits or other facilities available within the Department to enable her to arrive at a firm diagnosis that the deaths were due to Bt cotton.

When asked to see the post-mortem results/reports, she said she was not permitted to show them to the team, as permission of the Joint Director was needed. But the Joint Director was not present that day.

Demands for in-depth investigation and moratorium on Bt cotton

The team concludes that "The preliminary information gathered from meeting shepherds across 3 mandals, strongly suggests that the sheep mortality was due to a toxin, and most likely Bt toxin from the foliage." They were impressed that shepherds from villages located at 20-25 km distance from one another, reported an identical history of grazing on the Bt cotton fields continuously, identical symptoms and death within 5-7 days of grazing exclusively on Bt cotton plant residue, primarily on young leaves and pods. The post-mortem symptoms, as observed by the shepherds, suggest "severe irritation of the intestines and associated organs (bile duct, liver) connected to the absorption and assimilation of food and processing of toxins."

The team is calling for more "in-depth exhaustive investigation on the impact of Bt toxin on the local Indian livestock", and a "complete moratorium on Bt cotton cultivation until conclusive results show that the Bt toxin is completely harmless". Furthermore, they call for the shepherds who suffered losses to be compensated.

What is not yet clear from the report is whether all the sheep that did not fall ill or die also grazed on Bt cotton; if not, then the mortality rate is even higher than reported.

Source Mortality in Sheep Flocks after Grazing on Bt Cotton Fields - Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh. Report of the Preliminary Assessment April 2006, GM Watch

Farmer groups lash out at govt policies

Ashok B Sharma Financial Express NEW DELHI, MAY 8:

Taking the cue from Congress president Sonia Gandhi cautioning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to rush headlong with signing of free trade agreements (FTAs), the farmers and civil society organisations on Monday lashed out at unilateral liberalisation policy of government aimed at greater involvement of corporate houses.

The leader of the country's largest farmers' organisation, Bharat Krishak Samaj, Dr Krishan Bir Chaudhary and Dr Vandana Shiva of the Delhi-based Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in a joint press conference criticised the government, particularly agriculture minister Sharad Pawar for going ahead to import 3.5 million tonne wheat when the granary is full. They alleged that it is a deliberate attempt to erode country's self-sufficiency in food.

They said that the government policies of the day are no longer based on ensuring food security and farmers' livelihood, but are dictated by WTO, World Bank, IMF and USDA, and are best suited to serve the interests of corporate houses and multinationals.

Mr Chaudhary said, "It is shame on the part of the government to take the pretext of rising domestic prices of wheat to make a case for imports. There is enough stock in the country, with a wheat production of 72 million tonne in 2005, and expected 73.1 million tonne, this year. In the current season, the area under wheat has increased by 4 lakh hectare."

He said that the uptrend in domestic wheat prices is due to largescale hoarding by traders and multinationals. This is due to the removal of restrictions on stocking. The government should immediately re-impose stocking limits to check market manipulations, he said.

Mr Chaudhary criticised the involvement of corporate houses in direct wheat marketing, and said that they are paying more to the farmers taking advantage of the low minimum support price fixed the government. In the long run the corporates are not going to pay farmers lucrative prices and would buy the farmers' produces at distress sales, as has been the case with African cocoa growers, he said.

Ms Shiva released an updated version of Navadanya's study estimating more than 40,000 cases of farmers' suicides. She said, "Suicides are noticed in belts where farmers grow hybrid seeds and genetically modified seeds and cannot save these seeds for the next season. These suicides are nothing, but genocides."

Mr Chaudhary and Ms Shiva announced that they would undertake Bija Yatra-Asha Yatra (march to save seeds) in the suicide belts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka from May 10, this year.

Biotech Firm Raises Furor With Rice Plan

By PAUL ELIAS, AP Biotechnology Writer Sun May 14, SAN FRANCISCO - news.yahoo.com

A tiny biosciences company is developing a promising drug to fight diarrhea, a scourge among babies in the developing world, but it has made an astonishing number of powerful enemies because it grows the experimental drug in rice genetically engineered with a human gene.

Environmental groups, corporate food interests and thousands of farmers across the country have succeeded in chasing Ventria Bioscience's rice farms out of two states. And critics continue to complain that Ventria is recklessly plowing ahead with a mostly untested technology that threatens the safety of conventional crops grown for food.

"We just want them to go away," said Bob Papanos of the U.S. Rice Producers Association. "This little company could cause major problems."

Ventria, with 16 employees, practices "biopharming," the most contentious segment of agricultural biotechnology because its adherents essentially operate open-air drug factories by splicing human genes into crops to produce proteins that can be turned into medicines.

Ventria's rice produces two human proteins found in mother's milk, saliva and tears, which help people hydrate and lessen the severity and duration of diarrhea attacks, a top killer of children in developing countries.

But farmers, environmentalists and others fear that such medicinal crops will mix with conventional crops, making them unsafe to eat.

The company says the chance of its genetically engineered rice ending up in the food supply is remote because the company grinds the rice and extracts the protein before shipping. What's more, rice is "self-pollinating," and it's virtually impossible for genetically engineered rice to accidentally cross breed with conventional crops.

"We use a contained system," Ventria Chief Executive Scott Deeter said.

Regardless, U.S. rice farmers in particular fear that important overseas customers in lucrative, biotechnology-averse countries like Japan will shun U.S. crops if biopharming is allowed to proliferate. Exports account for 50 percent of the rice industry's $1.18 billion in annual sales.

Japanese consumers, like those in Western Europe, are still alarmed by past mad cow disease outbreaks mishandled by their governments, making them deeply skeptical of any changes to their food supply, including genetically engineered crops.

Rice interests in California drove Ventria's experimental work out of the state in 2004, after Japanese customers said they wouldn't buy the rice if Ventria were allowed to set up shop.

Anheuser-Busch Inc. and Riceland Foods Inc., the world's largest rice miller, were among the corporate interests that pressured the company to abandon plans to set up a commercial-scale farm in Missouri's rice belt last year.

But Ventria was undeterred. The company, which has its headquarters in Sacramento, finally landed near Greenville, N.C. In March it received U.S. Department of Agriculture clearance to expand its operation there from 70 acres to 335 acres. Ventria is hoping to get regulatory clearance this year to market its diarrhea-fighting protein powder.

There has been little resistance from corporate and farming interest in eastern North Carolina. But the company's work has raised the hackles of environmentalists there.

"The issue is the growing of pharmaceutical products in food crops grown outdoors," said Hope Shand of the environmental nonprofit ETC Group in Carrboro, N.C. "The chance this will contaminate traditionally grown crops is great. This is a very risky business."

Deeter points out that there aren't any commercial rice growers in North Carolina, although the USDA did allow Ventria to grow its controversial crop about a half-mile from a government "rice station," where new strains are tested. The USDA has since moved that station to Beltsville, Md., though an agency spokeswoman said the relocation had nothing to do with Ventria.

The company, meanwhile, has applied to the Food and Drug Administration to approve the protein powder as a "medical food" rather than a drug. That means Ventria wouldn't have to conduct long and costly human tests. Instead, it submitted data from scientific experts attesting to the company's powder is "generally regarded as safe."

Earlier this month, a Peruvian scientist sponsored by Ventria presented data at the Pediatric Academics Societies meeting in San Francisco. It showed children hospitalized in Peru with serious diarrhea attacks recovered quicker - 3.67 days versus 5.21 days - if the dehydration solution they were fed contained the powder.

Ventria's chief executive said he hopes to have an approval this year and envisions a $100 million annual market in the United States. Deeter forecasts a $500 million market overseas, especially in developing countries where diarrhea is a top killer of children under the age of 5. The World Health Organization reports that nearly 2 million children succumb to diarrhea each year.

But overcoming consumer skepticism and regulatory concerns about feeding babies with products derived from genetic engineering is a tall order. This is especially true in the face of continued opposition to biopharming from the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America, which represents food, beverage and consumer products companies with combined U.S. sales of $460 billion.

Ventria hopes to add its protein powder to existing infant products. There is no requirement to label any food products in the United States as containing genetically engineered ingredients.

The company also has ambitious plans to add its product to infant formula, a $10 billion-a-year market, even though the major food manufacturers have so far shown little interest in using genetically engineered ingredients. But Deeter says Ventria can win over the manufacturers and consumers by showing the company's products are beneficial.

"For children who are weaning, for instance, these two proteins have enormous potential to help their development," Deeter said. "Breast-fed babies are healthier and these two proteins are a big reason why."

Row over baby food heats up

The government and environmental group Greenpeace have locked horns over whether baby food sold in Hong Kong contains illegal genetically modified rice.

Chester Yung - Tuesday, May 09, 2006 - the HK standard.com.

The government and environmental group Greenpeace have locked horns over whether baby food sold in Hong Kong contains illegal genetically modified rice.

Greenpeace reported last month that samples it had tested of Heinz Baby Rice Cereal obtained in Beijing contained genetically modified Bt anti-pest rice.

Responding to the Greenpeace claim, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture immediately issued a formal announcement that China has not yet awarded any safety certificate for GM rice, nor approved the commercial cultivation of it.

Greenpeace claims the rice in the Heinz baby food cereal contains proteins that are resistant to pests and which could spark allergies in children.

At a Legislative Council panel to discuss GM food Monday, the Food and Environment Hygiene Department arranged a "background briefing" - in which reporters are not allowed to quote the names of officials - to counter Greenpeace's allegation.

A senior consultant announced that a study conducted by the government had cleared Heinz of using the GM rice in the product, and that results from a more conclusive study will be released later.

The official said "different laboratory techniques" could be the reason for the different findings reached by the government and Greenpeace.

Greenpeace food and agriculture campaigner Fung Ka-keung said the organization welcomed the government conducting its own tests to clear any public doubt.

"However, we still expect to see a full disclosure of their test report, including details of the samples," Fung said.

The government official also said a voluntary labeling system for GM food was expected to be introduced in two to three months.

control of resources

we need food, right?

this mean that we will have to pay the owner of
the patent for continued survival

its the same with disease management

they are actually going to patent & prescribe
 drug / additive / resources  

which 'enable us'

basically grants us permission

to continue our life
to make us feel 'normal' & 'free'

how do you gain access to this?


our very lives are a 'normality addiction'
index linked to the fear of a 'disease / terror'
propagated by the very same cartel

right now many people die from Murder incs lust 
for bio/pharma-control as a 'politically useful'
managed economic force-multipler


Captain Wardrobes

Down with Murder inc.